80% Maths Teachers In India Don't Know Basic Mathematics Concepts


Mohul Ghosh

Mohul Ghosh

Jun 29, 2024


A recent study conducted by Ei, an EdTech company, has revealed a concerning gap in the conceptual understanding of math among in-service teachers in India and the Middle East. The study’s findings highlight significant deficiencies in fundamental math concepts such as ratio, proportional reasoning, algebraic reasoning, estimation, and logical reasoning. This blog delves into the study’s results, its implications, and the urgent need for educational reform.

80% Maths Teachers In India Don't Know Basic Mathematics Concepts

Study Overview

The study, titled “Analysis of In-Service Mathematics Teachers’ Subject Knowledge and Misconceptions on Primary and Middle-Grade Mathematics Concepts,” assessed 1,357 math teachers from grades 3 to 6 across 152 schools in India, UAE, Oman, and Saudi Arabia over two years. The assessment was part of the Teacher Impact Programmes (TIPS) and aimed to measure both subject knowledge and pedagogical skills.

Key Findings

Conceptual Gaps

The study found that nearly 80% of the teachers lacked a basic understanding of critical math concepts. About 75% of the teachers struggled to answer even half of the questions correctly, with only 25% managing to answer a quarter of the questions accurately.

Misconceptions in Geometry and Decimals

The study uncovered several misconceptions among teachers. For instance, 32.9% of teachers erroneously believed that the perimeter of a shape formed by joining parts is simply the sum of the perimeters of those parts. Additionally, 36.3% of teachers misunderstood the ordering of decimals, comparing decimal parts of numbers as whole numbers, thus showcasing a fundamental misunderstanding of place value.

Probability Misunderstandings

Misconceptions surrounding probability were also notable. Around 16.4% and 25.9% of teachers incorrectly asserted that the probability of an event cannot be a fraction or a decimal and that it cannot be 0 or 1, respectively.

Implications

Cyclical Educational Challenges

The study highlighted a parallel between teacher and student misconceptions, suggesting a cyclical challenge in mathematical education. This cycle of errors and misunderstandings may perpetuate through generations of learners, thereby compromising the quality of math education.

Rote Learning vs. Conceptual Understanding

Sridhar Rajagopalan, Co-founder and Chief Learning Officer (CLO) of Ei, emphasized the detrimental effects of rote learning. India’s low ranking in the PISA assessment underscores the prevalence of rote memorization in classrooms, which undermines critical and creative thinking.

Call to Action

Need for Upskilling Teachers

The findings of this study serve as a wake-up call for the education system. While the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a step in the right direction, it is imperative for schools and teachers to take responsibility for upskilling and breaking the cycle of rote learning.

Fostering Critical Thinking

To meet the evolving demands of the modern world, an education system that fosters critical thinking and innovation is crucial. Educators must lead by example, equipping themselves with the necessary skills to inspire and nurture a generation of critical thinkers.

Conclusion

The Ei study highlights significant gaps in the conceptual understanding of math among in-service teachers. Addressing these gaps is essential for improving the quality of math education and fostering a generation of students who are not only proficient in math but also capable of critical and innovative thinking.

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Mohul Ghosh
Mohul Ghosh
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